Positive Impacts of Conservation Efforts in MO River Basin
According to a new study - conservation practices have made great strides in reducing pollutant losses from cultivated cropland in the Missouri River Basin. The study shows that conservation practices - such as building terraces and reducing tillage - reduce the runoff sediment by 76-percent, nitrogen by 54-percent and phosphorus by 60-percent. Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White says this study shows how the hard work of conservation-minded farmers and ranchers is positively benefiting waterways downstream. He says the cleaner water seen in the Missouri River means cleaner water is sent to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. White adds that conservation efforts like those seen in the Missouri River Basin are a testament to the importance of conservation on the landscape level.
The report - the Assessment of the Effects of Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland in the Missouri River Basin - is part of a series of assessments completed for USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project. White says these reports compose part of the scientific backbone that is used to improve and update conservation efforts. He says NRCS uses the assessments to strengthen its service to the nation's landowners and natural resources.
The report found that 18 percent of cultivated cropland in the region has a moderate or high need for additional conservation practices to further reduce sediment and nutrient losses from the basin. USDA says soil and nutrient losses through wind erosion - particularly in the drier, western part of the basin - are the most critical conservation concern in the region.
If additional conservation practices were implemented - NRCS technical experts estimate that the conservation practices would reduce runoff of sediment by an additional 28-percent, nitrogen by an additional 13-percent and phosphorus by an additional 12-percent.
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